In between the mirror and the picture of me and my family held up by a pink magnet in my high school locker was a sign that read, "Romney Believe in America."
When teachers and students passed my open locker each day, I anticipated that they were thinking something along the lines of:
1. Someone actually supports Mitt Romney?!
2. Republicans exist in New York?! or
3. Someone under the age of 45 isn't voting for Obama?!
Okay, maybe I can't vote (I'm only 17), but you get the point. I will admit that at first I was quite skeptical about putting a Romney bumper sticker up in my locker, where people could actually see it, and would make assumptions about me. Being a republican in a very blue state such as New York is strenuous enough, but even more so for a high school student.
People my age are, more often than not, liberals. In fact, people my age are expected to be.
I officially "came out" as a conservative last year, when Romney won the Republican primary, and I don't regret a thing. Sure, I got the ever-popular "You're a Republican?" question when friends came to my locker, and for the first time in my life, I responded without the least bit of hesitation, "Yes, yes I am."
Of course, this meant that I was a ruthless teenager with a tar-black soul; a greedy monster that found pleasure in strapping dogs to the roof of her car. But I know I'm just a girl, although different from most of my peers and teachers in my views.
Most of my friends couldn't understand how I could support a man who was pro-traditional marriage and pro-life, but that's not why I like Governor Romney. I'll admit, I consider myself somewhat liberal on social issues, as most young conservatives are becoming today, but I support Romney because I want what's best for my generation, and I refuse to stand by the "cool" candidate.
I know my parents can't afford another four years wondering how they're going to send me to college, and I know I can't spend another four years thinking how I'm ever going to get a job after I graduate.
We all know, the economy our president inherited wasn't the best, but I want a leader that will stop putting the blame on others, that will stop making promises he can't keep, and start taking responsibility for the unemployment rate that's three percentage points higher than it was supposed to be.
I want a president who will spend his time trying to figure out how to get Americans working again rather than spending time trying to figure out how to demonize his opponent.
I have full faith in Romney and Ryan, not just because they're not Obama and Biden, but also because I want leaders who can give me the opportunity to build whatever I choose, all on my own.
I first discovered these feelings and learned that I was a Republican in the fourth grade, in the midst of the Bush-Kerry election year, when my teacher handed out a quiz to the class that was supposed to tell us which candidate we matched up best with.
The quiz was meant to be suitable for the nine-year-old mind, but nonetheless helped me realize that I believe in a strong military, tax cuts, and revealed to me how interested I was in politics, even at the rudimentary level.
I matched up with George W. Bush, according to the simple multiple-choice quiz, and I never looked back.
I followed every election since 2004, and learned not only about the crazy, egocentric world of politics, but also about myself as a person.
I now understand that it doesn't matter if you're a democrat or a G.O.P. freak like myself; we're all Americans, and we're just trying to make our country the best it can be. Sure, our opinions differ about just how to make our country great, but that's not the point.
No one deserves to feel like an outsider in their own country, no one needs to feel like they shouldn't think a certain way, and that's why I don't regret admitting to people that I'm conservative.
If this country was built on one thing, it's freedom. And this country has given me the freedom to say what I feel, the opportunity to write, and to tell everyone in my school that yes... I'm a Republican! I'm a Reagan lover, independence over dependence, peace through strength, kind of girl, and I'm not scared to say it.
So I'll return to school this September as a senior, with a new sign in my locker that reads "Romney-Ryan 2012," and I won't be afraid of what people will think.